Svitolina on course for Baku Cup defence

Svitolina on course for Baku Cup defence

Elina Svitolina remains on course to retain her Baku Cup title after a 6-4 6-4 win over Pauline Parmentier saw her reach the last four.

The Ukrainian clinched glory in the WTA International hard court event with victory over Shahar Peer 12 months ago and is in with a chance of repeating that success after a straightforward passage in Azerbaijan on Friday.

Svitolina took a first set which saw five breaks of serve in total, the second seed getting almost two thirds of her first serves in and winning 57 per cent of those points.

A double break midway through the set handed Svitolina the initiative and, although she wasted two set points in game eight, was able to serve out in the 10th to move in front.

The world number 37 made a blistering start to the second by racing into a 3-0 lead and from there she rarely looked troubled, winning 84 per cent of points on her first serve to set up a semi-final clash with Francesca Schiavone.

The Italian overcame Kristina Mladenovic 6-3 4-6 6-0, winning 73 per cent of points on her first serve in the match, looking particularly dominant in the decider where that number stood at 87 per cent for the set.

Last year's runner-up Peer was denied the chance of going one better this time around as she went down 6-2 2-6 6-4 to Stefanie Vogele.

The Swiss clinched the first set, breaking Peer at every opportunity before Peer hit back in the second, showing much improved form by winning 87 per cent of her first service points.

A comeback victory never materialised, however, as Vogele moved 3-0 ahead in the decider and then eventually prevailed as the pair traded breaks in the final six games.

Vogele will play 2012 champion Bojana Jovanovski, who came from a set down to beat Japanese qualifier Misa Eguchi 4-6 7-5 6-3.

Eguchi went ahead with a crucial break in game nine of the first set, and looked in a strong position to reach the last four when 4-2 ahead in the second.

But Jovanovski hit back in style, winning five of the next six games to level, before a break in game eight of the decider set up the chance for victory, which she duly accepted to seal her progress.

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